Anytime a tenant is unable to pay rent, their landlord has the right to initiate the eviction process in an effort to get the tenant out and replace them with someone who can afford the monthly payment. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much a threat, many individuals, including immigrants, have found themselves in and out of work and without a steady income. Not only has this made it difficult for individuals to afford their day to day expenses, but also their rent.
Although Texas issued a moratorium that prevents certain landlords from evicting their tenants who don’t pay rent, this executive order does carry an expiration date that is quickly approaching. And as we get closer to it, undocumented immigrants who are unable to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic are choosing to self-evict rather than wait for the moratorium to expire or for their landlord to take them to court.
Undocumented Immigrants Fear Eviction Could Lead to Deportation
María is an undocumented immigrant who lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Texas [Source: The Texas Tribune]. After business began to slow down for María’s employer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her hours were cut, and she was no longer was able to pay her rent. Instead of waiting for her landlord to initiate the eviction process, she chose to self-evict as she “didn’t want to be in debt” and “couldn’t go to court.”
According to Zoe Middleton, who is the co-director at Texas Housers which is an affordable-housing advocacy group, because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies are allowed inside courthouses, “undocumented renters avoid going inside these buildings out of fear of being deported.” Middleton also says that there have been times where undocumented immigrants were arrested in courthouses when they appeared for a hearing that was unrelated to an immigration matter.
Now, although many courthouses are refraining from holding in-person hearings in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, that doesn’t prevent ICE from reviewing pending cases that are scheduled to go before a judge and potentially identifying someone who does not hold legal status in the U.S.
Knowing Your Rights as an Undocumented Immigrant in the U.S.
If you are an undocumented immigrant living in Texas, now is the time to familiarize yourself with what your legal rights are. Between the COVID-19 virus costing individuals their jobs and the Trump administration attacking the immigration system, you need to know what your legal rights are and how you can exercise them. If you would like to discuss this and more with a skilled Texas immigration lawyer, then the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen is who you need to call.
In the event you are at risk of being evicted or deported, the Texas immigration attorneys at the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen are ready and available to provide you with the legal assistance you might need.
You can reach the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen at:
310 South St. Mary’s Street, Suite 2100
San Antonio, Texas 78205